Source apportionment of PM2.5 organic aerosol over Europe: Primary/secondary, natural/anthropogenic, and fossil/biogenic origin

András Gelencsér, Barbara May, David Simpson, Asunción Sánchez-Ochoa, Anne Kasper-Giebl, Hans Puxbaum, Alexandre Caseiro, Casimiro A. Pio, Michel Legrand

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306 Citations (Scopus)


On the basis of a 2-year comprehensive data set obtained within the CARBOSOL project, seasonal source apportiontment of PM2.5 aerosol is attempted for five rural/remote sites in Europe. The approach developed combines radiocarbon measurements with bulk measurements of organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), and two organic tracers (levoglucosan and cellulose). Source types are lumped into primary emissions from fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning, bioaerosol, and secondary organic aerosol from precursors emitted by fossil and nonfossil sources. Bulk concentration ratios reported for these source types in the literature are used to estimate the source contributions which are constrained by measured radiocarbon concentrations. It has been found that while fossil-related sources predominate EC throughout the year at all sites, the sources of OC are primarily biogenic and markedly different between summer and winter. In winter biomass burning primary emission is the main source, with sizable additional contribution from fossil fuel combustion. In contrast, in summer secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from nonfossil sources becomes predominant (63-76% of TC), with some contribution of SOA from fossil fuel combustion. The results agree well with recent findings of other authors who established the predominance of biogenic SOA for rural sites in summer in Europe. An uncertainty analysis has been conducted, which shows that the main conclusions from this study are robust.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberD23S04
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 16 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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